A team of British archeologists unearthed about eight million of mummified dogs in an ancient burial ground near Saqqara, in Egypt.
Historians claim that dogs played a crucial role in ancient Egypt’s burial rituals because they were believed to appease god Anubis’s wrath stirred by their owners’ worldly deeds.
Despite mass animal burials being a routine in ancient Egypt due to animal cults that were so widely spread in the country at that time, the latest finding in the Catacombs of Anubis is by far the largest of its kind.
“We’re very pleased and somewhat surprised by the results. We hadn’t expected that there would be so many animals, and it opens up a new series of questions,”
said Paul Nicholson from Cardiff University’s School of History, Archaeology and Religion, who was part in the discovery.
Prof. Nicholson, who is also an expert in ancient animal cults, explained that dog owner brought animals to the site to kill them or bury them because they hoped dogs could intercede with Anubis, the Egyptian dog-headed god of the after life on the behalf of their relatives.
The professor added that burying dogs in ancient Egypt was a “religious act” justified by the best “possible” motives in the world. People hoped that animals could help their recently deceased ones to have a smooth journey in the afterlife.
Researchers said that they started excavations at the site in 2009. But the exact location of the dog catacomb was marked on an 1897 map. Moreover, nearby temples showed clear depictions of the site and animal rituals.
The research was sponsored by Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities and National Geographic.
Archeologists said that they had also found tunnels that lacked any animal remains inside the burial ground. They believe that Egyptians have taken some of the mummified remains out to use them as fertilizers, which was a common practice in ancient times.
The team also found dogs that were nearly intact and wrapped in bandages soaked with embalming chemicals such as resins. But their owners failed to provide them a royal burial. Most of the carcasses were stacked on top of each other. So, the majority were severely damaged.
Prof. Nicholson said that it would be nearly impossible to discover a “nicely wrapped” mummified body that had all its parts in place. Researchers counted 8 million dogs by looking at one sample. They also believe that the dogs were so many because the majority were very small. Scientists believe that some of them were even bred for funeral purposes.
Image Source: News Quench
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